Oceania Cruises makes history with stop in Cuba

Oceania Cruises adds a Havana stop to Caribbean itinerary

HAVANA – Oceania Cruises' ship made its way to Havana for the first time on Thursday. The company was the third in the U.S. to cruise to the island following ships from Fathom and the Pearl Seas.

The 14-day cruise making a historic stop in Havana will also visit Mexico, Colombia, Belize, and the Cayman Islands. It remains the most controversial stop of the trip. 

Many Cuban exiles in Miami, who believe the cruise lines are helping to enrich the tourism industry that is strengthening the repressive Cuban government, were not happy with the news.

"I understand their pain. I have that pain too," said Frank Del Rio, a Cuban-American born in Havana, who is the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Oceania Cruises. 

Del Rio left Cuba when he was 6 years old and still remembers how he had to leave family behind. But he says you have to look to the future, which he believes is hopeful.

"I think that there is a bright future for Cuba once again and as a Cuban born I want to be part of the renaissance, if you will," Del Rio said.

In 2016, Cuban authorities said that more than 88,000 passengers came by way of a cruise ships. They are expecting that number to double. Bob Martin, a Canadian tourist, traveled on the cruise ship.

"I hope the relationship between Cuba and America really changes," Martin said. "I think both countries will really benefit a great deal from that."  

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